Revolutionising FMCG Packaging: Exploring the Potential of 3D Printing
What is FMCG Packaging?
FMCG stands for ” fast-moving consumer goods,” which are products that people frequently buy because of high demand or because they are perishable. These types of products are sold at low prices and usually in large amounts. Some examples include soft drinks, cosmetics, pastries, dairy products, and meat. Packaging these foods or other products accounts for a huge cost to manufacturers, leading to higher prices for consumers.
Currently, a lot of companies use packaging techniques like thermal or injection molding, cured resin parts, or shrink wrapping. These processes are time-consuming and require heavy machinery and molds, which can increase the cost of the product itself for consumers. These types of packaging are also not very environmentally friendly as they rely heavily on plastics.
Computer Numerical Controlled Machining, or CNC, is another packaging method that can create parts quickly, but companies have to pay high up-front costs to outsource CNC machine parts. Further, the high demand for CNC parts can cause delays in manufacturing.
How Does 3D Printing Benefit FMCG Packaging?
3D printers are machines that can print parts from a digital blueprint using filament made from plastic or other sturdier materials. They’re faster and less expensive than CNC production. With 3D printing technology, a company can produce their own packaging parts in-house, saving on time and shipping costs required to outsource to packaging companies.
3D Printing is a Customizable, Sustainable, and Cost-Efficient Option
The sky is the limit with 3D printing. Rather than sticking to a rigid mold or a complicated computer-based prototype, companies have the flexibility to create individualized packaging to meet consumer needs or innovate a new type of packaging. Digital 3D models can be adjusted with just a few clicks of a mouse, making it easier than ever to cater the product to customer preferences. For example, Chanel created a 3D-printed mascara brush based on customer demands, making it a one-of-a-kind brush that’s mass-produced in a fraction of the time.
While 3D printing mainly utilizes plastics for production, manufacturers can also use nylon, carbon fiber, flex, and even titanium filaments to produce packaging. Biodegradable types of plastics are also available. These types of plastics are used in products like the Smart Cup, a 3D printing-engineered, all-in-one energy drink cup that won’t create a lot of plastic waste when thrown away.
3D printed materials also result in less waste, as material is not lost through shaping or cutting. Using a 3D printer on-site cuts back on emissions from trucks shipping the needed parts. 3D printers can also use recycled plastics.
Several companies are making the switch to 3D printing due to the reduction in packaging costs. Toly, a cosmetics company, uses 3D printing for packaging cosmetics, reducing production costs by 75%. Pepsi used 3D printing to create thousands of promotional masks that attach to the can of soda itself, a process that would have cost much more with traditional packaging methods.
Without having to wait for outsourced parts, companies can make products faster with 3D printing. The products themselves don’t need hardware or other added parts, reducing the time that would be spent installing these other components.
How Can I Use 3D Printing in My Business?
Making the switch to 3D printing has numerous benefits, but can seem daunting at first. Industrial technology consulting is a growing field, with the goal of making your business more profitable and efficient. An Industrial Technology Consultant can help you through the process of making the switch.